The fastidious folks down at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can crunch the numbers with the best of them, especially when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They can tell you the stats about all the afflicted – be it age, gender, race, geographical location, whatever.
But what they really haven’t addressed all that much is the average American’s fitness level and how it figures into the 100,000 virus-related deaths on the books in less than three months.
Let’s put it bluntly, the United States isn’t exactly the fittest nation on the planet.
In fact, according to the website worldpopulationreview.com, USA ranks only 35th in the world when it comes to being in shape.
If you think there isn’t a correlation between that number and COVID-19 infection rate, you just haven’t been paying attention.
As of Tuesday, the United States was second only to Spain in the total number of cases (approximately five thousand) per one million people for countries with more than 10 million population.
Numerous medical people will tell you the problem with Americans starts with obesity, much of that stemming from poor nutrition as well as lack of exercise.
How can you fight off a murderous virus if your immune system is compromised?
Yes, it’s true that many of the fatalities have come from the elderly sector, a large number of which reside in care centers with close quarters conditions.
On the other hand, a lot of people in their 30s, 40s and 50s have also fallen victim to the virus because they have let their fitness level slip over the years.
Here’s the part where exercise opportunities like running and cycling come in.
It’s no secret people who keep an eye on their weight, their diet, the amount of sleep they get and how often they work out are better prepared to handle any sort of communicable health threat.
These are things to seriously consider, particularly if a second wave of the coronavirus strikes this fall or early next year.
According to a story in the New York Post, a pair of studies conducted by New York University revealed obesity was one of several key factors (the others being advanced age and chronic illness) which lead to an increased risk of hospitalization for COVID-19 patients.
Researchers at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine found that age and chronic illness (cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, in particular) were the leading factors that led to hospitalization for COVID-19 patients. The study, which looked at reports on 4,103 patients from March 1 through April 2, is currently under peer review and has been pre-published online.
Another study showed patients under 60 were at a higher risk of hospitalization due to complications from COVID-19 if they were obese. The report, which was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, looked at the data of 3,615 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus from March 4 to April 4.
It was disclosed patients under 60 who were considered obese by BMI (body mass index) standards were almost two times as likely to be admitted to the hospital for acute and critical care.
How to fix the problem without getting too preachy here?
Well, start with diet choices. Lay off the processed food, also stuff heavy with sugar. Drink more water. Eat fresh vegetables and fruits. Plan hearty breakfasts with oatmeal, etc. so that you get the day off on the right foot.
Then, plan an exercise program to get into good aerobic/cardio shape. Begin with walking, then jogging until you can complete a mile, then two. Soon you will be running for half an hour and your esteem is likely to go through the roof.
Top it off with daily vitamins such as C, D, along with fish oil, magnesium, plus a good night’s sleep of seven or eight hours.
This is the body armor you need to avoid getting the virus or, should you get it, recovering from it quickly.
What we don’t need is a nation which has 40 percent of its population being classified as “overweight.’’
If you think you fall into that 40 percent, look in the mirror. Do you like what you see? Break out some old photographs when you were in your youth and didn’t have to worry about weight. That’s the real you, with just a few years (and pounds) added on.
A poll backed by the health product Tru Niagin found that 59 percent of Americans have been working on eating healthier during the lockdown.
In all, eight in 10 Americans now consider improving their health their highest priority.
The Tru Niagin poll also disclosed that, on average, Americans are squeezing in an average of three and a half more hours of exercise per week during stay-at-home orders.
The CDC-P has been logging the numbers and has found the obesity stems from habits starting in childhood (no news flash there).
And it’s only getting worse. In 2005, the childhood obesity rate was 15.4 percent. Now it’s 19.3 percent. Clearly, things are headed in the wrong direction.
For all of us, it’s time to take stock with our lives, time to prioritize.
And there’s nothing more important than self-health.
You want to flatten the curve for good? Start with flattening your stomach and we’ll all be the better for it.